It’s Wednesday: August 14, 2013

Let me share a concern and a question while it is still summer vacation time. Next week we get to more serious matters, for which I am ramping up slowly.

The concern: there is increasingly no such thing as a vacation. You may have seen the new Harris Interactive survey that found that 61 percent of Americans plan to work during their vacations this year. That is up from 52%  last year and 46% the year before, and Generation Y’ers are at 73%, so it’s a fast rising boat.  And the saddest part for me is that only one third of those who plan to work while on vacation is not pleased about it, meaning the other two thirds don’t seem to mind.

Why so? The conjectures are 1) that the job market is still shaky enough that people feel edgy about completely uncoupling from the office, and 2) people are staying plugged in because they are afraid of being overwhelmed when they return to work.

Ellen Galinsky, president of the Families and Work Institute, thinks it’s the latter. “It’s less the bad people making us do it. It’s more ourselves and worrying about what will happen when we don’t.” And, she says, while staying plugged in may ease our first day back, people need downtime and a chance to really recharge and to see things we don’t see until we really step back from work.

I for one struggle with this reality. I no longer let the emails accumulate until I am back working. I read them at least once a day on vacation, sometimes several times a day, and it’s not necessarily relaxing. I just don’t want to face the hundreds I will face if I wait even a week, which would make coming back to work too traumatic.  I will try to do better next year but I am not sure how.

Now to my question, which is also about percentages:  why do Jewish kids seem to go to summer camp in so much higher a proportion than other kids?  I don’t have any scientific data to prove that this is so, but I am certain it is. And when mentioning this to people recently, I heard from congregant L, who is now the first researcher on the It’s Wednesday payroll. She went to two local country clubs on a warm weekend in July. At the Jewish one (starts with a W) the pool was empty, maybe 9 people including a few kids. At the club that wouldn’t be called Jewish (starts with a C) the pool area was teeming with people, including tons of kids. How’s that for survey research? Kidding aside, I think the differential is real but I cannot figure why. It’s not like Jews like camping. Some have suggested that Jewish parents are more anxious to get rid of their kids for the summer, but I dismiss that out of hand. I do think there is something behind this, not sure what.

So, now is the time for your reasoned theories about this phenomenon. Please make them brief and send to my email address below. In the meantime, have a great Wednesday and, if on vacation, give that smartphone a rest.